Today’s journey into the world of idioms tackles: s’emporter (or “monter”) comme une soupe au lait / to have a short fuse
First things first, it has to be said that today’s choice of idiom in no way reflects either my current mood or general temperament.
Having said that I have been known to lose it ever so slightly when boiling milk. Or should I say when letting boiled milk erupt like a flow of lava (coulée de lave)to cover the hob or microwave in a very difficult to remove crust.
And yet the origins of the phrase stem not from the reaction boiled milk has on hapless people (infortuné, infortunée) such as myself but more from the nature of the liquid itself.
Basically we all know that heated milk is a very unstable substance that can quickly rise up, often when you’re distracted. I’m not sure how it knows when your eyes have been averted from milk watching duties but that’s milk for you I suppose. Then as soon as you remove it from the heat, the milk instantly dies down.
And so the French phrase “monter comme une soupe au lait” likens someone with a fiery (fougueux) temperament to boiling milk. One minute calm, the next volcanic.
But before you can say “Calm down you’re making a scene,” the moment has passed and serenity has been restored. I’m talking about the fiery person here obviously and not the milk. I’ve yet to try coaxing milk into a state of calm but with the season of hot chocolate and porridge upon us, drastic action may be called for. I’ll keep you posted.